Dear Sasha: Will I Regret Being Quirkyalone in the Future?

photo by Natalia Brasil

Dear Sasha,
I’m 27, and I’m so thrilled to be a quirkyalone. I think it makes for a far more conscious, expressive and spontaneous life. Quirkyalonedom rules! But I struggle with thinking about what quirkyalonedom will be like in the future. How will it feel when I’m 50…70? Will the “this rules!” feeling that this is how life is meant to be lived dull over time? Will I look fondly on my quirkyalone twenties but think of myself as being naive to the future?
Thanks for the newsletter and the thoughts. Im happy to be part of it.
Alex
+++

Hi Alex, Thanks for writing in with this excellent question. You sent this question two years ago and it took me two years to answer you because the question is so profound I only wanted to answer you when I was good and ready.

The first question I have for you is, What does quirkyalone mean to you?

To me, the essence of being quirkyalone is being true to yourself.

It’s hard to imagine how you can ever go wrong when you are true to yourself.

Being quirkyalone includes the possibility of being quirkytogether. So you really can’t go wrong when you stay true to your north star.

On the other hand, lots can go wrong when you lose touch with yourself: you might regret staying in a marriage with someone you’re not in love with because of your fear of loneliness, staying for years in a job you don’t believe in, or not taking the chance to express yourself to people you love.

What do people regret when they are on their deathbeds? Bronnie Ware is a palliative care nurse who spent years caring for patients in the last 12 weeks of their lives. She published a book called The Top Five Regrets of the Dying, and the most common regret was “I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.” Another common regret: “I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.”

From an exhibit “Signs of Regret” in Washington DC based on Bronnie Ware’s book exploring regrets of the dying

Back to your pitch-perfect question. Is it possible to be naive about the future in your twenties? Sure, we are all naive when we are in our twenties. That’s the nature of being twentysomething. You don’t know yet what’s to come because you’re not there yet.

When I was in my twenties, I remember feeling that life was like Christmas Eve. The best was always to come and I didn’t have to make any limiting decisions yet. I remember an older man telling me at a party that I would not feel so romantic about being quirkyalone in my thirties. At the time I thought he was a jerk but when I got into my thirties, I thought, you know, he was right. My mid-thirties brought some rocky times. When I hit my mid-thirties most of my friends were getting married, buying homes, and having children. I wondered where I stood with all those life milestones and if I was being left behind.

Now I know that I wasn’t alone. The mid- to late-30s can be a stressful, dark passageway of the soul for single women–especially if you might want to have children but haven’t found a partner. People are starting to call this trend “social infertility” and it’s a problem that doesn’t get much attention. We only have so much time to find a partner and we have to decide. There are forks in the road: especially, have children or not. By 39, it can feel like time to pull the red alarm.

Men face their own pressures but men don’t usually perceive themselves as having the same biological clock pressure or “expiration date” in dating.

But just because life doesn’t happen on the prescribed timeline doesn’t mean life won’t happen. I wish I could have soothed my 35-year-old self from the position of where I stand now. I was really terrified about being aged out of the dating pool and being unloved for the rest of my life. I also worried my life would get dull without children, but that hasn’t been true at all. If anything my life has gotten more rewarding and my mother-friends convey their admiration for my more varied “selfish”(self-ful) life. (They love their children, but there are tradeoffs.)

I am proud of my life because I have been very intentional about my choices. I dug deep to ask myself what really matters and acted accordingly, even when it meant surfing with massive amounts of self-doubt. But because I am always checking in with myself on the why of what I’m doing at the deepest level I have no regrets. Here I’m talking about big decisions like where I put my creative energy, whether to be a self-employed entrepreneur or take the safer path of a job, the relationships I choose to invest in, and where I live.

If you don’t find someone to marry and have children by the end of your thirties turning the page into your forties may be a relief. If you were ambivalent about having children and it didn’t happen, now it’s no longer an option. There’s freedom in that clarity. You can go forward not scrutinizing every date to see if he will be “the one” to pop out a baby in the next two years–that’s a lot of pressure for dating! If the kids and marriage thing don’t happen, your forties can be a kind of rebirth. (I’m not saying this is easy. Many people go through grief over not having children and luckily there’s Jody Day’s Gateway Women community to help with releasing the grief.)

Then come the 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s, and who knows how long? I haven’t gotten to my fifties yet but I asked some of my newsletter subscribers to respond to your question and I love the nuanced responses I got from older women.

Leslie said:I turned 71 on October the 6th. I live on Cape Cod with my three elderly dachshunds and I am truly a Quirkyalone and have been since 1976 when I divorced my husband of only 6 years. I left him in Minneapolis and drove back to New England with a four-year-old son and three-year-old daughter, $100 in my pocket, no job, and no place to live. The rest is a very long story and I am now a grandmother of two, work part-time in the car business, sing in Sweet Adeline, an a cappella chorus, own a small dog-sitting business, am a hospice volunteer, and take courses in anything that interests me and am never lonely. 

I have had four or five serious relationships over the years but none ended in marriage. To the young lady who wrote you I truly believe that keeping your heart open may lead you to the perfect person but if not, a very satisfying life lies ahead if you stay true to yourself and never stop moving and learning.”

Sheila says:
“In response to Alex:
You can’t possibly predict anything about feelings that far ahead. You can’t predict next year, let alone decades in advance. 
I am 64 and quite like the label and status of quirkyalone. I’ve a sister, other family, friends and business associates, church community, customers, social media, God (not the least). So I’m not alone.
My husband died a few years ago and I’ve developed and adventured, wept and laughed, played and got myself into messes left right and centre, hated my singleness and aloneness sometimes BUT I would not have it any other way. So there.
love you all.
Sheila x”

Maybe you were asking, will I regret being quirkyalone now if I stay perpetually single?  I want to speak to you if you have this fear. It’s easy to shut down and give up on love because it hurts and it’s fatiguing to be on the lookout for a partner for years when you don’t find someone. This is a fatigue and angst that doesn’t get talked about much! On the other hand, if you really want a deep experience of love  don’t give up. Know it’s possible and maybe you just need to give it time and believe in yourself, your lovability, and your unique path in life.

Sara Eckel (author of the fantastic book It’s Not You: 27 (Wrong) Reasons You’re Single) argues that single women are far too likely to berate themselves with criticism to explain why they haven’t found a partner (with messages we pick up like lint from our culture like “you’re too picky, or desperate, or independent”) and I couldn’t agree more.

But I can say sometimes there may be particular reasons why we may find forming trusting, long-lasting healthy relationships challenging, based on who we are and the experiences we’ve had. It’s always time and energy well spent to reflect and do personal growth work to have better relationships. That’s been my story and the story of a number of my clients, and that’s some of the most valuable work you can do in a lifetime: to open yourself up for deeper love. People who have been in long relationships also often need to do healing relationship work–just because you have been in a long relationship doesn’t mean it’s particularly healthy.

Finally, I hear in your question one more question. Will I regret being quirkyalone if I wind up alone when I get to my 70s? Who will take care of me if I’m old and fragile? This is a topic we are going to have to address as a society because so many of us are going to be single in old age, whether we marry or not.  Our society is going to need new models for health care, mutual support, community and caregivers who receive a living wage.

It’s impossible to predict the future. You could meet the love of your life now and he or she could pass in his or her 50s. You could have children who are not suited to be caregivers. I understand wanting to control for the future. Certainly I do. But all we can really do is live and love moment by moment.

I hope these words have been more reassuring than scary as you think about the road ahead. I think avoiding regret is really about honesty and the courage to take risks. If you do cozy up with another human in a long-term relationship, you know you are with your partner because of love and desire, not fear of loneliness or to fulfill societal expectation. In every area of your life, be honest with yourself. Ask yourself what you want. Ask your body what it wants. If you put your heart into your life and relationships (of all kinds, including your relationship with yourself), even if you don’t get exactly what you wanted you will have nothing to regret. We don’t have total control over what happens in life. But if you get clear about what you want and live from your desires rather than fears, there can be no regrets, only lessons learned.

Do you have thoughts or a story for Alex? Please share with us in the comments.

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Introducing Pussywalking! It’s Like Feminism But You Feel It In Your Body

 

One of my guy friends wrote me this week, “OMG, you really put yourself out there! Nicely produced I might add!” Well, he was right. This was a big week for me when I overcame a huge block of fear by releasing the pussywalking videos I’ve been working on for more than a year.

I wrote Jeff back, “Thanks for noticing that! It took me months to get up the courage to share this in Facebook!” He said, “Don’t blame you!” And I said, “Somewhere in this there was a point of no return feeling. Like I am just not a normal person anymore.”

Now I am that woman who launches online pussywalking campaigns, and believe me, that’s a far distance to come for the girl who grew up in Rhode Island, a state where most people never talked about sex out loud. Now I’m publicly associated with using the word “pussy” online and coining the term “pussywalking.”

But hey, if 45 can talk about pussygrabbing, I can talk about pussywalking, right?

So here I am sharing “pussywalking” with you and if we were together in the same room you would see both how uncomfortable and excited I would be to have this conversation.

My own discovery of pussywalking has changed how I walk in the world and now that I am sharing online I hear more diverse and amazing stories about how this helps many different women.

In fact, pussywalking has deep connections with mindfulness, and ancient practices such as yoga, tantra, Chinese medicine, and kundalini. People have long known that the womb region is a huge source of energetic power.

The #metoo movement has now been going on for over a year so this feels like the perfect time to release the pussywalking concept. Pussywalking is a modern way to reclaim your sexual power.

Where Did Pussywalking Come From?

The full story of my discovery of pussywalking is in my memoir-in-progress Wet (in fact there is currently a chapter called “Pussywalking”).

I started my own pussywalking practice back in 2012 and for a long time I used pussywalking in my everyday life when walking around my neighborhood for a mood lift. I started to share the idea here and there with individual women I met at entrepreneurship and storytelling conferences and then with my coaching clients. If I heard a woman’s story and felt she could use the confidence boost of pussywalking I would tell her, “I want to share something with you.”

In the following years I left the Bay Area tech world and transitioned to Buenos Aires to focus on writing my next book, coaching, and the Tango Adventure. Teaching pussywalking in the Tango Adventure felt like a no-brainer (pussywalking is definitely what the best female tango dancers do!) but it still took courage to teach.

In the Tango Goddess workshops, some of the women looked eager, some of them looked deeply uncomfortable as if I had brought up a word we are not supposed to say out loud. It’s not quite acceptable in middle-class culture to speak the word “vagina’–let alone “pussy”!

I took a deep breath and told them my story of discovering the power of the pussywalk on the way to a job interview, and how I found that putting attention on my pussy gave me a confident glow and helped me nail the negotiation and get the job.

“This pussywalk is something any woman can do,” I would explain. “It’s simple. You walk, and put your attention on your center point and see how that affects your walk. Men have their cocky walk. We say that cocky means confident, right? What do women have? We have our pussywalk. But no one tells you to walk with your attention on your vagina.”

Pussywalking–it’s like feminism but you feel it in your body! Every single woman who has learned pussywalking with me looks different to some extent when she does her pussywalk.  Some walk slower. Some have better posture. Some of them look softer, a bit more present. They look more proud of being women.

From Bashful Teacher to  Pussywalking-Evangelist

I was content to share pussywalking in a personal, one-on-one way with those who work with me as clients because hey, I was born in New England. I wasn’t that keen to get on the Internet to talk about pussy-anything. But then along came Cinthia Pacheco.

Cinthia organizes a Women in Business Buenos Aires Meetup and helps women entrepreneurs with marketing. Cinthia came to a Tango Goddess Workshop and she loved pussywalking. She started sending me audio messages on Facebook the next day about how she had shared it with her best friend who lives in Texas and the best friend asked for a YouTube video link, assuming there was one.

Cinthia encouraged me to make a few simple pussywalking videos talking to my iPhone. She really wanted me to spread the gospel of pussywalking to more women. Maybe I would have made the simple videos that but at the time I was getting to know Tan Kurttekin, a brilliant Turkish cinematographer. Tan told me he wanted to do a project with me and we set out to do something more ambitious together.

Tan and I made two pussywalking videos for you over the last year.

What’s the Reception So Far?

In a word, incredible.

I am loving the diversity of the responses so far.

Here’s what one woman Monica wrote me this week, “It’s really good timing Sasha. I have decided to get my breast implants removed hopefully in December. I got them when I was 31 because I felt so self-conscious and unfeminine. Now I am feeling strongly to go back to my small flat chest again.

It’s been a total mindshift and there is part of me that knows I may experience a feeling of loss in some way, however practicing pussywalking before/after surgery may help with this transition. I want to focus on my health and well-being this year. When I was walking by windows on my profile I was focusing on my breasts. Now I can shift that focus elsewhere.”

You can read about other’s women’s experiences with pussywalking on the official page.

I would love for you to share the videos online and with any woman you think will benefit.

How to share:

Three ways, choose yours.

1) Grab the two-minute intro video on my Facebook author page and share it on Facebook

2) Share the video directly from YouTube

3) Of course you can share this post or the newsletter it comes in too!

Next-level Have a pussywalking party and share the video with friends to try out pussywalking together. You’ll see an example of a pussywalking party in the longer video.

Today is a big day because I’m finally releasing these pussywalking videos into the world. I am so nervous/thrilled/don’t-know-what-to-think.

After you try it, share your story with me.

And be sure to sign up for the pussylist to get further instruction and inspiration because although pussywalking is easy it takes practice and encouragement.

Watch here.

Sign up for the pussylist.

Be sure to sign up for this list to get further inspiration, stories of how women use pussywalking and to be part of the pussywalking movement.

Want to learn pussywalking live and in the flesh?

Join us for the next Tango Adventure in Buenos Aires where we teach pussywalking in the Tango Goddess Workshop.

Hold it in your hands: signed, collector’s edition copies of To-Do List magazine

Before moving to Argentina to dance tango and start the Tango Adventure, before becoming a life coach serving my quirkyalone readers, before writing Quirkyalone: A Manifesto for Uncompromising Romantics, I published and edited a print magazine.

To-Do List was a magazine of meaningful minutiae that published essays, interviews and art using the idea of a to-do list as a jumping-off point to explore the details of modern life.

In anticipation of the first issue I placed an ad in Bitch magazine asking people to send me their to-do lists in the mail.

Much to my surprise, thousands of people took me up on the offer. I discovered the delightful experience of visiting a PO Box in San Francisco, opening the postal box and finding handwritten to-do lists from strangers.

Much like The New Yorker uses cartoons as its signature artwork, To-Do List used handwritten lists. The lists are stories in and of themselves, a snapshot of humanity, wants, dreams, neuroses, obsessions, capacities and incapacities.

To-Do List won Best New Magazine in Utne‘s Alternative Press Awards in 2000 and eventually led to the publication of my second book, To-Do List: From Buying Milk to Finding a Soul Mate: What Our Lists Reveal About Us.

Several fans of the book recently emailed me to ask about getting copies of To-Do List magazine.

We have a limited number of copies of the magazine which we offer now to you as signed, collector’s-edition copies. The longer this “digital revolution” goes on the more I value things I can hold in my hands, especially books and magazines. Maybe you do too!

  • There are very few of these print magazines on the planet and you won’t find these on offer anywhere else. If you’re a collector these are special magazines to collect.
  • I’ll sign the magazine for you and write you a special note! They would make amazing gifts for someone else or yourself. I’ll write a note, just tell me who it’s for in “order notes.”
  • To-Do List is where quirkyalone got started in that first issue, the Love-Anti Love issues. So you will be holding quirkyalone history in your hands.

These limited-edition copies will be mailed out in September 2018. September because I’ll be back in the U.S. in September–so that allows me and my elves to mail them to you that month.

To take advantage of this special offer to get To-Do List magazine order by September 15, 2018.

This offer is only good for U.S. mailing addresses–sorry international readers! (But you can get a Kindle version of the To-Do List book no matter where you live.)

There are very few copies so if this sparks your interest for yourself or as a gift, reserve yours now.

The Hidden Messages of Romantic Obsession

If you read my book Quirkyalone: A Manifesto for Uncompromising Romantics you may remember the section on R.O., or Romantic Obsession. That part of the book was one of the most fun to write, and one of the most emotionally resonant, or so I heard from readers. It turns out that many of us quirkyalones have fallen into our share of R.O.

Here’s an excerpt to jog your memory: 

“It’s a little-known fact, but quirkyalones, for all their independence, also have a tendency to be swept away when they get close to love. We are passionate, romantic characters, and that click happens so rarely that the search for a partner can take on the character of a holy grail. If you only meet someone who stirs your interest once every two years, this is bound to be an epic event. If things don’t go according to plan, or even if they do, well, this can be difficult. We sometimes plunge into romantic obsession, or R.O.”

You can read the full passage here.

I experienced my first and deepest R.O. 25 years ago when I was in college. So I’ve spent a lot of time reflecting on and writing about R.O. (That’s a lot of years!)

Since I launched my coaching practice in 2012 I’ve talked to a lot of women who have fallen into R.O. states for longer than they would like. Many quirkyalone women came to talk with me about a variety of life issues and decisions, but often the pain of the R.O. was the trigger for getting support. They wanted a way out of persistent obsession with someone who had told them in ways, subtle or not, that they were not interested in continuing a relationship.

Since I know R.O. to be a hidden topic for quirkyalones (because after all we seem so self-assured and confident, so not prone to obsession!) I recorded this unscripted video sharing what I have learned from my own R.O.s and helping others . I called the video the Hidden Messages of Romantic Obsession because many years later, I can see that usually an R.O. masks or distracts us from a deeper issue. It’s never really about the person we are obsessing about–it’s about something else for us to heal.

This is a big topic for many of us so if you have thoughts to share please do so in the comments!

P.S. I’ve been making more videos lately. This new twist has happened because I’ve become good friends with a genius Turkish filmmaker and fellow Buenos Aires expat Tan Kurttekin who is helping me make videos about pussywalking. (What the hell is she talking about with pussywalking?)

We will officially release the first PW (pussywalking!) video next week so keep an eye on your inbox for the email! Be sure you are signed up for my newsletter the Sasha Cagen Weeklyish to get it!

You should also subscribe to my YouTube channel to get videos. Whoo-hoo, I am now a YouTuber!

The Outdoor Milongas of Paris

I just got back to Buenos Aires from (and Ireland, and the US!) in time for our next group Tango Adventure–starting this coming Saturday with a fantastic group from the US, Germany/Romania and Australia.

During my travels through the US and Europe, I of course visited tango scenes–especially in Paris. Learning tango has changed the way I travel. Tango came into my life around the same time I discovered I have celiac disease and both discovered changed me; being celiac pushes me to find gluten-free restaurants when I travel and dancing tango pushes me to find milongas! Tango also has given me a way to meet new people wherever I go and also to discover places off the beaten path that I would probably not find otherwise.

On this recent trip to Paris–the second in 9 months–I discovered even more beautiful outdoor milongas so at this point I thought, I just have to wrap all this beauty up in a blog post to share with you. I was inspired by this couple and many more and the creativity of Paris’ tango organizers in reclaiming public space for dance. Oh la la.

Where you dance tango or not, visiting the outdoor milongas of Paris is a treat because tango is mesmerizing to watch and the milongas takes you to these beautiful social scenes. Probably no city has a more beautiful or romantic backdrop for tango.

Here are a few photos to tell you the story of what you might find in Paris if you are as lucky as I was.


An outdoor “milonga illegale” on the Passarelle de Simone de Beauvoir in the summer months. A passarelle is a footbridge. This one was called an illegal milonga because the organizers didn’t have a permit. But there really was no illegal activity, only music, dancing, and a bit of wine.

Milonga on the Quai de Seine by Jardin Tino Rossi (metro: Jussieau). In the summer months people gather along the Seine to dance tango–and also salsa, kizomba, swing and folkloric dance. These dance circles happen every night when it’s nice out. Getting to know the Quai de Seine scene convinced me that Paris turns into an urban paradise in the summer. Again, it doesn’t even matter if you dance. You can just bring wine, cheese, bread, crackers, and sit by the Seine taking in the scene. Eventually you might get pulled into one of the dance cultures.

Similarly in the summer months, and starting in April when the first warm weather of spring begins, people gather to dance by Place Trocadéro by the Eiffel Tower to dance. There are also lots of break-dancing street performers, protests and tourists taking in the Eiffel Tower of course.

The creative milonga orgnanizers of Paris invited people to bring cardboard to this outdoor milonga by the Parc de Belleville. The milonga overlooks a park where you will find many Parisians doing “picnic”–“picnic” is the social activity of the warm months. Down below I also found a group practicing capoeira, the Brazilian martial art-dance. By the Parc de Belleville there are also lots of hipster-chic cafes and bars, including a restaurant that’s 100% gluten-free.

To give credit where credit is due, I knew about many of these beautiful gatherings because my dear Parisian tanguero friend Eric tipped me off. And so now I tip you off too!

I know about these places because my tanguero friends in Paris tip me off but you can also find out about many outdoor tango events on this website: the Argentine Tango Calendar of Paris. It’s not hard to catch one of these beautiful events when the weather is warm. For example, the milongas by the Quais de Seine (by the side of the Seine) happen every night in the summer months by Jardin Tino Rossi.

Our next group Buenos Aires Tango Adventure is May 26-June 1. Of course the outdoor and indoor milongas in Buenos Aires are a thing of beauty too. Once you learn tango with us you will feel more confident and comfortable exploring tango all over the world. Check out all the details on our next Tango Adventure here!

The Creative NYC Quirkyalone/Togethers

[end of the night at the qa/qt meetup nyc at Ten Bells]

During my travels in the U.S. I made a quick stop in New York City.

In New York I hosted a quirkyalone/together meetup at Ten Bells, a wine bar on the Lower East Side (Thanks to Melissa Banigan for the suggestion–it was the perfect place.) I’ve been doing these meetups in California, New York and New England because I want to seize the opportunity to meet more of you and also share in person some ideas that I have percolating to serve the QA community.

I’m more convinced than ever that you quirkyalone/together readers are just fantastic. I’ve always felt that when I get to know you in online courses, by working one-on-one with you and in the Tango Adventure. Now with these stateside meetups I’ve seen how great it is to meet you and have you meet each other.

I thought I would tell you about who came because it was such a creative group with everyone working on interesting projects.

Caren Lissner came out from Hoboken. She is working on various writing projects – and her funny first novel, Carrie Pilby, has a quirkyalone protagonist. The novel has a movie version that is currently on Netflix. Her websitehas writing projects, funny and serious. She’s also @carenlissner on Twitter

Phoebe Blue is in a band with her partner (the’yre both very independent so quirkyalone/together fits them well!) The band is Phoebe Blue and the Make Baleaves. Check out their latest album Wordz of Wizdumb. Phoebe is part of the antifolk scene in New York and every February 14 she plays a show and gives a shoutout to Quirkyalone Day. She convinced us all that Staten Island is the place to be in New York City and a future quirkyalone/together meetup might take place there. See Phoebe rap here in the song Baby Talk.

Maggie Buford is the Education Director at Staten Island MakerSpace, “a non-profit workshop that helps artists, craftspeople, engineers, inventors, and entrepreneurs make their ideas come to life.” You can like SI MakerSpace on Facebook. Maggie lives on Staten Island too. Phoebe turned Maggie on to Quirkyalone at a key moment in her life and they have been sharing the book with people in their Staten Island community.

Petra Hanson is a two-time Quirkyalone/together Meetuper because she was able to attend both meetups in SF and NY. Petra is a former pop star in Japan (yup!), a blogger and a fashion designer, and she’s up to something important and needed with the B-Sider, a blog and storytelling series (and a podcast to come) about reinventing yourself past 40 for the B-Side of your life. Check out the B-Sider and be sure to sign up to for the podcast to hear the inspiring stories she’s curating in the storytelling series.

Petra also responded when I asked last year if anyone wanted to get married to her or himself for national television. Watch the intrepid Petra talk about marrying herself and the expiration dates women face here on this ABC/Nightline documentary on self-marriage — you’ll see me give my perspective on self-marriage too. 

I’m still feeling the afterglow from all the spontaneous meetups in NYC, Providence and San Francisco. Stay tuned for more to come!

 

8 Trends Noticed Upon My Homecoming to San Francisco

snapped at the Mission District cafe Laundry

Almost two years ago I wrote a blog post called “Achieving Home” about the decision to move to Buenos Aires–at least for a while. At the time, I was asking myself, What am I devoted to? What matters most?

The answer: I wanted to focus on my memoir, and I didn’t find it possible to focus in the Bay Area because I was consulting to Silicon Valley CEOs while serving clients in my burgeoning coaching business and working on my book. It was too much to do at once.

I never really thought I would live in Buenos Aires forever, and so, over the last couple months I have been spending time in various places in the U.S. to consider whether I would want to move back.

For me decisions have become about feelings as much as thought. The pros and cons list can only take me so far–the feeling of “yes” at a certain point has to take over. So I was going to “feel” San Francisco and every place.

When I came back to the San Francisco Bay Area after spending 20 months away, I wasn’t surprised to see that new cafes had sprung up while other longtime businesses had disappeared.  But wow, there was so much change! It’s a dizzying experience to come back to San Francisco because the area changes so quickly.

San Francisco is a very unique U.S. city. Republicans demonize San Francisco for being liberal. San Francisco is very progressive but actually people in the San Francisco Bay Area do many things are differently: sex, relationships, gender, food, work, drugs, and therapy. Trends start in California, then some go come nationwide–or worldwide.

San Francisco is a safe place to incubate new ideas because people are so open-minded and entrepreneurial. They’re willing to give new things a shot. Most big tech companies have their HQ there or nearby too: Google, Facebook, Apple. For better or worse, tech has changed the world. It’s no surprise to me that I birthed the quirkyalone concept in San Francisco, and that idea found an audience globally.

In the last 20 months, San Francisco seems even more intensely San Francisco. Maybe this is part of the polarization of the country as a whole post-Trump, each place becomes more intensely itself in reaction. The right gets righter, the left gets lefter.

In this post, I want to tell you about the trends that popped out to me with my new outsider eye: in San Francisco and other liberal enclaves around the U.S. When you’ve been away for a place you see it differently when you return.

Since many people say trends start in California these trends could be a preview of what comes next wherever you live.

Before talking about more fun and light-hearted trends, I can’t help but note the biggest trend in San Francisco: the absurdly high cost of housing in the wake of the ongoing tech and biotech boom. Which has led to a rather unfortunate urban dystopia.

The average cost for a 2-bedroom apartment in San Francisco in 2018 is $4,423, per rentjungle.com. In Oakland too the rents are nuts: an average rent for a 2-bedroom is $2,922. There are very few places to go if you lose your housing in Oakland or San Francisco.

Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg donated $75 million to SF General Hospital to make it the Zuckerberg Hospital now but his company and all the other big tech companies have contributed to rent increases that have displaced so many people who made the city unique and great.

Before I left for the last 20 months, I was going on dates with engineer men who made the money to afford luxurious hotel-like apartments on destitute streets in San Francisco surrounded by homeless encampments. San Francisco has turned into a dystopia with too much luxury and destitute poverty right by its side.

Can the city wrest its soul back? The Bay Area always attracts dreamers who find a way through their social networks to survive but at the same time many people have left as a result of the tech boom. I assumed the prospects for a sustainable San Francisco were bleak—that the entire Bay Area would one day become like Manhattan, totally unlivable unless you are wealthy or working 70 hours a week for a tech company.

On this recent visit I was surprised to see that people are still fighting in San Francisco for affordable housing. A mayoral election is coming up after the sudden death of Ed Lee, a man many thought was too friendly to tech interests at the city’s expense. Can a new mayor take the city back to make it more humane? Is there still a sliver of hope for the Bay Area to remain a place with a diverse citizenry beyond the techies and their families?

Many of my friends hang on and the Bay Area will always have a big piece of my heart. Here’s to hoping for some real civic action on creating affordable housing and policies that work for the whole.

Here are just a few of my impressions on the changes that popped out at me after 20 months away.

Kombucha is taking over the beverage section. Still don’t know what kombucha is? Have you visited the beverage section of your convenience store lately? Kombucha is a fermented beverage that many people love and many people think is gross. It’s a polarizing beverage, if you will. Kombucha is made by brewing cold tea, sugar with a slimy big mushroom called a “scoby.” With its probiotic content kombucha is good for the intestines. I love the effervescent kick of it.

Since I started drinking kombucha I’ve noticed the trend has gone mainstream. Pepsi Co. bought KeVita, “the leader in fermented probiotic beverages” and so now we have corporate kombucha.

Spotted in Beacon, NY. And here I really need a bang trim.

There are also lots of regional, artisanal local kombucha makers. In Beacon New York, an artsy town in the Hudson Valley I visited after San Francisco, I tried out this Calmbucha that looks just like beer in a mug. Yum.

All over the healthy cities of the U.S. you’ve got your local kombucha brands but on San Francisco Kombucha seems to really have taken over. Kombucha used to be a fringe thing but now there are just sooooooo many brands and flavors. You had mystic mango, tantric tumeric and gingerade for a long time but now you have watermelon basil. That somehow says it all for me: watermelon basil flavor kombucha is a crossover moment.

spotted in San Francisco

By the way, kombucha has not made its way to Buenos Aires. Instead, water-based kefir is taking off in the Paris of the South.

Avocado toast is the hot new trend. I didn’t actually witness any avocado toast but my friends told me it’s the hot trend at many cafes.

More 100% gluten-free restaurants. I have celiac disease so eating gluten-free isn’t negotiable. I was always surprised by how few 100% gluten-free restaurants there were in the San Francisco Bay Area–there seemed to be more in Buenos Aires (where no one eats gluten-free as a trend). This time I noticed far more totally gluten-free eating establishments, which is fantastic because that means we celiacs can let down our guard and not have to cross-examine the wait staff about cross-contamination. Relief!  Here’s a list of 17 SF GF spots. I tried Kitava and As Quoted, and especially adored Kitava. Here’s hoping the 100% GF trend spreads nationwide to more restaurants.

Recreational cannabis is very available. When I left Oakland, there was already a lot of pot in the Bay Area–the whiff of it could often be smelled from my apartment. If you had a medical card, you could order a delivery service (Uber for pot) to bring all varieties of “flower” to your door.

Last year California voters legalized recreational cannabis and made it even more seamless to get pot. Now anyone can walk in off the street without a medical marijuana card to buy cannabis.

During my visit I took BART downtown to see a fortysomething Silicon Valley friend who now works at LinkedIn where the average age of employees is 27 (that’s another thing, SF feels so young!). On my walk from downtown BART to LinkedIn I noticed the Flower Power dispensary on the way.

Flower Power serves a daily menu of edibles such as cannabis chocolate, gummy bears, chocolate covered blueberries, flowers (of many indica and sativa varieties) as well as “extracts” and “pods” of cannabis. Don’t know what the extracts and pods are? I don’t either.

The location of Flower Power is wild: just steps from the BART train and in the middle of all the hot tech startups. It’s so convenient to get pot on the way to work or home. The woman working the counter told me she served employees from Lyft and Uber that morning.

When Trump was elected I wondered if more people would smoke more pot to check out of the pain of reading such horrible headlines. Maybe that’s happening.

Microdosing LSD as the new coffee. OK, wait, what? So not only does everyone have easy access to cannabis gummy bears, a lot of tech types are microdosing LSD! I was having coffee with a techie friend he told me about the latest Silicon Valley trend for productivity and creativity.

Microdosing LSD means taking very small doses of the psychedelic. Back in the 60s, Timothy Leary days, people took 250-500 micrograms. Microdosing people now take 10 milligrams to be more effective at work. My friend described these users as quite square tech types: their goal is less mind expansion, more success.

Some people think microdosing also can help mood. In her memoir A Really Good Day: How Microdosing Made a Mega Difference in My Mood, My Marriage, and My Life Berkeley author Ayelet Waldman wrote about how taking daily LSD microdoses helped her recover from severe depression.

There is no research on the long-term effects or whether LSD is addictive at a microdose. Are they also microdosing LSD in New York on Wall Street?

-Trans-pronoun awareness. There are a lot of linguistic trends that I’m not exposed to because I’m faraway in Buenos Aires. One of them is this new convention of using pronouns to identify your gender, or your refusal to identify with the gender binary of men and women.

While I was visiting I went with a friend to pick up her son at a San Francisco school. I was shocked to see all the teachers had their little pictures posted with their names and preferred pronoun: “she,” “he” or “they.” I thought if you look like a woman or a man it was assumed we call you “she” or “he” but it seems like the trans awareness is all about destabilizing assumptions about everyone’s gender.

Later I talked with two friends who are in law school and a PhD programs at CUNY (City University of New York). For them, it had become not-so-unusual in the classroom setting for people to announce their desired pronoun.

Is this level of trans sensitivity in schools a trend of just New York and San Francisco? I’m not quite seeing it in Texas or Montana.

–Feminist desk signs and other gift products. I was shopping for a friend’s birthday gift and couldn’t help but notice how many feminist products there were in gift shops: everything from memorial books from the Women’s March to “Boss Lady” signs to put on your desk.

spotted in San Francisco

Just five years ago it still seemed edgy to call yourself a feminist. Post-Trump and Harvey Weinstein, all of a sudden feminism seems downright trendy.

I bought a Boss Lady desk sign for myself and a friend because I thought, hey, that’s fun and inspiring. I wanna be a Boss Lady.

Later when I traveled on the East Coast in Beacon and Brooklyn, New York, I noticed even more feminist products now that my eye was attuned to them: a tote bag, a craft product for kids, and even more desk signs!

spotted in Brooklyn

spotted in Beacon, NY

Spotted in Beacon, NY

Commercializing feminism could result in watering down the movement — that’s what Jessa Crispin warns against in Why I Am Not A Feminist: A Feminist Manifesto but I have a hard time getting worked up over feminist tote bags. If girls are learning to make craft products to smash the patriarchy instead of playing with Barbie that’s probably a good thing.

Now that we have a pussy-grabber in the White House and the #metoo movement it’s not surprising that we have more Lady Boss signs for sale.

Here’s to hoping those lady boss signs take off as a trend everywhere. In Congress. In big companies, in auto plants, in academia. I fully support that lady boss trend.

What trends are you spotting? Let me know what you see in the comments.

 

San Francisco + Providence Quirkyalone Meetups: the Report-Back + What’s Next

 

Quirkyalone Meetup San Francisco 2018

 

Sasha + Elizabeth at the Quirkyalone Providence Meetup

 

Sasha’s mom and Elizabeth discuss tricky nuances of online dating using Quirkyalone as a jumping-off point

“It’s that feeling of not having to explain yourself.”

“It’s that feeling of finding your tribe.”

“I felt a lot of shame–I had a lot of shame about things not working out the way I expected.”

These were just a few of the things said and shared at the absolutely lovely quirkyalone/together meetups we had at Cafe La Boheme in San Francisco and at India Restaurant in Providence over the last month.

I’m doing a series of Quirkyalone meetups while I’m in the U.S. from Buenos Aires.

New York: you’re up next! Be sure to get on the newsletter to get the details for the New York City meetup.

In the Bay Area, women joined us from Modesto, Richmond, Mill Valley, Oakland and San Francisco. One woman traveled two hours to be there.

In Providence, we had people from all over southeastern New England.

Quirkymen: you’re welcome too. This San Francisco meetup happened to be all ladies but in Providence, Rhode Island men joined  our meetup.

For those who are new to the concept, Quirkyalone isn’t about being single actually–it’s about staying true to yourself and not settling.

At the SF meetup we really dug into our personal stories. Some women had been married multiple times, some had never lived with a man. It doesn’t matter what your romantic history is, it’s still easy to feel like you’ve done it wrong in some way in this society if you are not fulfilling the “ideal.” No matter what our unique histories are, we have a lot in common to work through to get to a place of inner peace and self-acceptance.

There can be a great feeling of isolation and “what’s wrong with me?” if you haven’t found a partner and all your friends have. Finding community is always key in the journey.

Everyone who came was creative in some way. In San Francisco, we had a former Japanese pop star, a fiction writer, and a singer-songwriter with us at the table. In Providence, we a had a Journey Dance teacher–one of my favorite new dance modalities.

Everyone wants more community–online and off. It’s so important to cut the isolation and meet others who share your values and are in your situation, online and off. There are so many of us grappling with the same questions.

This meetup was a kind of percolation for some ideas I’ve been brainstorming about how I can serve more of you with a quirky online support to help you stay on the path of self-compassion and self-acceptance; to be OK with being single while also being open to relationship; and to nourish your relationship with yourself and your happiness.

I was able to “focus-group” the ideas with the people who came. I got a lot of great feedback from them–so stay tuned.

Laronda and Lisa who came to the Bay Area meetup are taking the reins to organize a BAY AREA quirkyalone/together chapter with some ongoing meetups. They are thinking simple events, from meeting in a cafe to a walk to one member showing others his or her neighborhood.

They’ll share with me what they learn organizing these meetups and later we’ll be able to share those lessons with you.

So two important things . . .

IF YOU ARE IN THE BAY AREA and want to be part of this free BAY AREA meetup group, send an email with your name and email address and I will share your contact info with the organizers Laronda and Lisa.

IF YOU ARE NOT IN THE BAY AREA stay tuned.

Stuff is happening! Stay tuned on the newsletter to find out what comes next. 😉

To all the women who refuse to settle!

photo by Natalia Brasil / Cura Fotagrafia / taken at our Self-Love and Sensuality Women’s Retreat in Florianopolis, Brazil, November 2017

Today is International Women’s Day and I want to take this opportunity to recognize the fierceness of women who don’t settle.

–The women who left relationships that offered security but didn’t allow them to be who they are and won’t tolerate anything less

— The women who want a big love with a true equal and are willing to wait for it beyond the socially marked “expiration dates” of 30, 40, 50, 60, 70, on

— The women who prioritize their own self-development

— The women who slog through online dating and stay positive! (And/or take breaks knowing Tinder, GreenSingles, and Happn will be there when you come back.)

— The women who want hot sex and aren’t afraid to own or explore their sexuality

— The women who want respect and equal pay at the workplace, who negotiate for themselves, and support other women to get fairplay too

— The women who are speaking up in the #metoo movement about sexual violation and the women who are working on their own healing privately and quietly

— The women who dare to create their own #happilyeverafter whether they are with a man or not

Not settling is not just about not settling for less than what you really want in love or in bed. Not settling is also not settling for a president or a legislator who disrespects women or a boss who routinely harasses women on the team. Not settling is about being in alignment with yourself and your own principles. . . it’s also about not settling in your relationship with yourself!

So it’s with a special bow to this non-settling spirit that I wish you a happy International Women’s Day!

A big shoutout to the men who truly support this kind of questioning, open-minded, needle-pushing women. We need you. I hope you men get that feminism is a big tent. Feminism is a movement to liberate all of us from confining gender roles and any residual idea that women are inferior to men.

PS. A little bit of levity about not settling: A very dear male quirkyalone friend shared this link with me. If you want some inspiration about not settling in online dating, follow this Instagram account idratherdiealone.